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Clifford Geertz and experiences that change perspectives

Clifford Geertz passed away last weekend. I’d written to a professor just a few days before that reading Interpretation of Cultures was one of those experiences that significantly shook up how I think about the world. This was really true of the entire Culture, Knowledge, and Creativity course (my first academic exposure to anthropology), but Geertz’s writings really catalyzed my shift in thinking.

I’ve been thinking some this week about other experiences that have caused similar changes in how I look at things in my day to day life. I’ve had a lot of great courses taught by excellent professors, but in the end, most of my educational progress feels pretty linear or evolutionary. To a large extent, SI504, Social Systems and Collections, is having a similar impact on me this semester, albeit at a slower pace. At the start of the semester, I was afraid this course would be not so interesting, but as surely as I find provenance and sensemaking slipping into my vocabularly, I find the ideas taking hold and making me look twice at things I would otherwise take for granted.

I want to toss this out there for general discussion. What courses and readings have changed how you think? (SI folks: I’m also thinking some about registration these days, so course recommendations are swell.) Non-academic experiences are welcome too, but I haven’t been contemplating those as much this week.

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